Japan PM Koizumi visits Yasukuni

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, invigorated by his smashing electoral victory suuporting his economic and political reform agenda, extended his advances to the diplomatic sphere. For the fifth time he visited Yasukuni Shrine today, a religious site which honors the war dead, including war criminals. China and South Korea are fuming,

"The Chinese government will staunchly oppose Prime Minister Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine where the Class—A war criminals are enshrined——regardless of how the visits are made," said Wang Yi, the Chinese ambassador to Japan.

South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon summoned Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Shotaro Oshima in Seoul. Ban said the South Korean government felt "deep regret and disappointment" over Koizumi's actions.

But Taiwan's former leader Lee Teng—hui indicated his support for such visits last Saturday — a first for even a former leader of a country once ruled by Japanese forces.

"It is natural for a premier of a country to commemorate the souls of people who lost their lives for their country," Lee said in an interview during a two—week private visit to the United States.

Koizumi is boldly rewriting the rule book for Japanese politicians. He took on the party bosses of his own Liberal Democratic Party, long committed to massive public works spending financed by borrowing from the massive Postal Savings system, by far the largest deposit—based source of funds in the world. he p[icked up major support from urban constituencies, and is well along converting the ruling LDP to a modern political party, not an alliance of bosses reliant on the distribution of patronage in rural districts.

Koizumi has also been moving Japan towards an active military role in the global war on terror. Japanese forces already serve in non—combat roles in Iraq. And he is pushing through economic reforms intended to strengthen market forces and weaken political and bureaucratic forces in the operation of the Japanese economy.

His latest visit to Yasukuni was done in an ordinary business suit, not formal Western or  Japanese clothing, reinforcing his claim that it is a purely private, not an official visit.

Koizumi is rapidly making Japan what his supporters call a "normal country" — one which can defend itself militarily, but also one in which market forces operate transparently, and one in which majorities rule through leaders they elect, rather than through party bosses pulling striongs behind the scenes. Koizumi is a historic figure, and Americans should be paying more attention to the strong (and overdue) leadership he has brought to Japan.

Hat tip: Brian Schwarz

Thomas Lifson   10 17 05

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, invigorated by his smashing electoral victory suuporting his economic and political reform agenda, extended his advances to the diplomatic sphere. For the fifth time he visited Yasukuni Shrine today, a religious site which honors the war dead, including war criminals. China and South Korea are fuming,

"The Chinese government will staunchly oppose Prime Minister Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine where the Class—A war criminals are enshrined——regardless of how the visits are made," said Wang Yi, the Chinese ambassador to Japan.

South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon summoned Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Shotaro Oshima in Seoul. Ban said the South Korean government felt "deep regret and disappointment" over Koizumi's actions.

But Taiwan's former leader Lee Teng—hui indicated his support for such visits last Saturday — a first for even a former leader of a country once ruled by Japanese forces.

"It is natural for a premier of a country to commemorate the souls of people who lost their lives for their country," Lee said in an interview during a two—week private visit to the United States.

Koizumi is boldly rewriting the rule book for Japanese politicians. He took on the party bosses of his own Liberal Democratic Party, long committed to massive public works spending financed by borrowing from the massive Postal Savings system, by far the largest deposit—based source of funds in the world. he p[icked up major support from urban constituencies, and is well along converting the ruling LDP to a modern political party, not an alliance of bosses reliant on the distribution of patronage in rural districts.

Koizumi has also been moving Japan towards an active military role in the global war on terror. Japanese forces already serve in non—combat roles in Iraq. And he is pushing through economic reforms intended to strengthen market forces and weaken political and bureaucratic forces in the operation of the Japanese economy.

His latest visit to Yasukuni was done in an ordinary business suit, not formal Western or  Japanese clothing, reinforcing his claim that it is a purely private, not an official visit.

Koizumi is rapidly making Japan what his supporters call a "normal country" — one which can defend itself militarily, but also one in which market forces operate transparently, and one in which majorities rule through leaders they elect, rather than through party bosses pulling striongs behind the scenes. Koizumi is a historic figure, and Americans should be paying more attention to the strong (and overdue) leadership he has brought to Japan.

Hat tip: Brian Schwarz

Thomas Lifson   10 17 05